Aaron's Blog

Aaron Williamson is a pastoral-assistant at Holywood Baptist church.

 

I Don't Want to 

If you are walking the journey of the Christian life and it isn’t always easy i.e. you are a Christian who is a human being, then you will probably have had this experience. You come to a time when you know you should worship. Maybe it is your quiet time, going to church or prayer meeting or some other way of worship. And you don’t want to. You perfectly well could go but your heart would rather do anything else. And you manage to persuade yourself that it would be better not to worship since your heart isn’t in the right place. So you don’t do it.

I’ve done that and it is absurd.

Imagine pondering going to the gym and thinking ‘Well I’m a bit overweight, I’ve eaten too much junk food, my body isn’t really in the right place right now, I’d really be better not going.’ Or ‘My car is a mess, the brakes are soft, the indicators aren’t working, I couldn’t possibly bring it to the mechanic like that! I’ll wait until it is a bit better and then I’ll go.’

Absurd. It is precisely because you have those chicken wings and love handles that you need to go the gym. It is because your car drives like a one legged elephant on drugs that you need to get to the mechanic. That is where those things are resolved.

It is the same with our hearts and worship. We don’t come to worship because we have it all together and God will be so pleased with what we have to say. Worship is coming acknowledging that we are empty and longing to be filled up. We don’t come saying ‘Look how together I am!’ Rather we say ‘I am broken, fix me please;’

Worship is not merely us broadcasting our love for God. Worship is about getting our hearts tuned to the right frequency so that we have something to put on the air.

The next time you tell yourself that you aren’t in the right place for worship; don’t believe yourself. Tell yourself that you know you aren’t in the right place and that’s precisely why you need to go there. 


Aaron* Williamson, 19/09/2017


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The Courage of Churchillwinstonchurchillholdingam1298t 

You can see it coming. It looms on the horizon and could spell disaster for many many people. Most of those around you don’t see danger, there are those who won’t even consider the possibility of it happening. 

That’s the situation that Winston Churchill, among others, found himself in in the years between the First and Second World War. He recognised that Germany was hurting and that she was rearming. He could see that the rise of the Nazi party could only lead to conflict. He tried to warn the people of Britain but was amazed at the lack of response. He wrote in 1934, five years prior to the outbreak of war in Europe: 

I marvel at the complacency of ministers in the face of the frightful experiences through which we have all so newly passed. I look with wonder upon the thoughtless crowds disporting themselves in the summer sunshine, and upon this unheeding House of Commons, which seems to have no higher function than to cheer a Minister; [and all the while across the North Sea], a terrible process is astir. Germany is arming.

People seemed to be going on about their daily lives, enjoying the summer, and cheering on politicians who were, seemingly wilfully, ignorant of the disaster around the corner. But the country did not want to hear about another war. They had been through that already. Wars were a thing of the past, modern people talked things through and could achieve peace. 

Churchill didn’t give up. He warned that Britain needed to arm herself, to be prepared for what was coming. As a result he was scorned and went through what he called the ‘Wilderness Years’. There was no place in government for an old-fashioned, scare-monger, like him. He sacrificed his political career in that period trying to save the country that turned him into a pariah.  

That is the situation we Christians find ourselves in today too. We can see a day of reckoning around the corner. Not the rise of a terrible tyrant but the coming of a just King who will bring all before Him to give account for our lives. We warn that everyone must act now. To leave it until later is too late. We know we will be met with the response: 

"Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4 

But don’t give up. Keep warning. The need is greater than ourselves. The wrath of God is at hand and the only rescue is found in Jesus Christ. 

Churchill is today honoured as the greatest ever Prime Minister of Great Britain. One day we will be vindicated. One day all will know what we know. Share what you know now.  








 


Aaron* Williamson, 14/04/2016


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watch out for the sheep poo...

you should probably keep walking...

 (Probably not the best place to camp out)


It has been years since I camped out in the mountains but I remember the old question, ‘Where should we pitch the tent?’ It wasn’t always easy to find a good spot, somewhere flat is pretty essential, not somewhere with soggy ground would be nice, not too many rocks underneath the tent would be good too, somewhere without too much sheep poo to navigate would be a bonus, somewhere convenient to go to the loo is fairly essential, a nearby source of water for a cup of tea is an absolute must… and the list could go on I’m sure. Since the criteria is so convoluted, particularly for those with an aversion to sheep poo and an addiction to tea, you really need to be on the lookout for somewhere to camp out all the time.  

The same mentality is needed when walking through our Bibles too. There is the old struggle when reading Scripture, do we read for quantity or for quality? Do we read so that we can say that we have read the whole Bible in a year and have a good understanding of the sweep of the grand narrative, or do we read slowly and devotionally, taking a few verses at a time and really applying them to the heart. 


David Mathis suggests a good approach in his book Habits of Grace: 


Think of your Bible reading as a regular surveying of the biblical landscape to find a spot to settle down for a few moments to meditate, which is the high point and richest moment of Bible intake.
p45


Read lots, even set yourself to read a few chapters every day, but be on the look out for that spot where you can settle and linger over the truth. Pause when something catches your eye and pray over it, ask God to reveal more of what He is saying to you. As Mathis says ‘Don’t let the push to check boxes keep you from lingering over a text’. It is good to cover many miles over the ranges of the Bible but it is essential that we take time to rest and allow it to sink into our hearts and lives. 


There may or may not be good resting places in the mountains but there are always good places to stop in God’s Word, let’s not miss them.  


Aaron* Williamson, 15/03/2016


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The Mysterious Case of Count St Germain, Chinese Whispers and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ 


CountofStGermain1

RecentlyI have been enjoying listening to a podcast called Thinking Sideways. The show features three Americans who deal with a different unexplained mystery each week. Apart from one of the hosts annoying tendency of raising his voice at the end of every sentence so that you think every sentence is a question, even when its not? The show is actually quite enjoyable. They deal with people who disappeared, thefts, deaths, sightings of strange creatures and all manner of weird and wonderful happenings that are unaccounted for. 
One of the older shows deals with a historical figure called Count St Germain. The Count lived in the 18th Century and was a known composer and philosopher. However, he also had an incredible mythology around himself that continued long after he died. He was very sketchy about where he was born and how old he was. And, unlike most modern celebrities, he did not claim to be younger than he was but actually led some to believe that he was an old man when he appeared to  only be in his twenties or thirties. He told some people that he was ‘very, very old’. 

This led to all sorts of stories going around that he was ancient, or immortal. He was claimed to have been present and influential at the French Revolution, the signing of the Declaration of Independence in America and in helping out in a coup in Russia. Not a bad CV. He also was said to have been seen by different people for years after his death. Up until as recently as the 1960’s.

What I enjoy about the podcast is that they talk you through the details of the mystery and then they talk theories. They tell you the most popular explanations for what could have happened and then tell you what they think themselves. 

When it came to Count St Germain they explained the mystery as being a massive case of Chinese whispers. Some stories were told about him, possibly by himself or someone else, these were then retold and exaggerated and over time it just got blew up and some people have ended up believing it.

This struck me as similar to how some people view the resurrection of Jesus. That this was a story told by His disciples that got bigger in the telling. Maybe Mary thought she saw Jesus and told the disciples and they told others that she did see Jesus and it grew. 

However, for this to happen you need time. Count St Germain has had almost 300 years for his mythology to grow and be speculated over. 

What about Jesus? Two facts about the first letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians are helpful here.

a) 1 Corinthians is clear about the resurrection. Paul says it happened. He also goes as far as to say that if it didn’t happen, then this whole Christianity thing is a hoax, and a bad one at that, since he would have be suffering for nothing. 

b) 1 Corinthians is one of the the earliest books of the New Testament. It was written around 55 AD. This means that Jesus died about 20(ish) years previous. 20 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things. In fact some of the people who saw the resurrected Jesus were still alive. He says 500 people were eye witnesses to the resurrection, ‘most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.’ 

Therefore, the account of the resurrection did not grow over hundreds of years. Less than 20 years after the event Paul was saying what the early Christians had put into practice since Pentecost - the Resurrection happened and Jesus is alive. The story did not snowball. It stayed the same and people believed. 

So Count St Germain is an interesting case of the story getting bigger in the telling. The Resurrection is not. The empty tomb is no Chinese whisper. 

(Note, in an earlier version of this article I had stated that the gap between the resurrection and the writing of 1 Corinthians was 60 years. I later realised my sums were wrong, the gap was actually about 20 years. I did English at university, no Maths.)

 


Aaron* Williamson, 25/03/2015


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Beauty 

Your standing in a field and an old man is ploughing the soil. What do you notice? Maybe you notice the blue sky above. Maybe you see the cows hanging around and you get a bit nervous. Maybe you notice that there are no shopping centres or coffee shops for miles and miles. Seamus Heaney sees legendary poetry.

Or you see an apple fall from a tree. What do you observe? A health and safety hazard? An opportunity for one of your 5 a day? Isaac Newton sees gravity. 

Conversely, you are standing at Portstewart harbour on one of the three clear evenings of the entire year. The sky is turning blood red as the sun lowers herself into the ocean. You are awe-struck. And there is someone sitting on a bench texting on their phone, seemingly oblivious to the explosion of amazingness that is happening all around you.

Why do some people seem to see beauty and discovery in the most average of places? And how can some people stand in front of places of exceptional beauty and be unmoved? 

The old adage is that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. I couldn't disagree more. 

Beauty is not something that you conjure in your mind. Beauty exists, it is out there, not in here. It just needs to be seen. 

Every atom in the universe is a miraculous work of art by the Greatest Artist who ever was and is and is to come. He spoke it into being and crafted and moulded this existence to showcase His glory. Beauty is all around you. You just need to open your eyes. What beauty is there around you today? 

 


Aaron* Williamson, 24/09/2014


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